Labor Mobility and Workplace Inclusion

With the current increase in labor mobility, global communications, international investments, and trade, we must also acknowledge how multiple cultures coexist in a globalized world. 

The economic rationale for geographical labor mobility is that it will lead to an efficient allocation of resources. A shortage of demand for labor (not enough work openings) in one economy can be solved through worker migration to other countries, while economies with a shortage of labor supply (not enough workers) can get an influx of skilled workers. However, this is only the aggregate effect of better-functioning economies. On the individual level, labor mobility can be an important opportunity to advance one’s financial situation. We know that much of people’s economic future is determined by the country in which they are born. 

Looking past the aggregate viewpoint, on an individual level, moving to and working in a foreign country is not a walk in the park. There are differences in local and national culture, laws, languages, and working conditions which can be overwhelming.

Globalization does not have to entail that all countries have the same cultural values and norms, and neither does it suggest that all migrants need to conform to local cultural values and norms. The theory of hybridization claims that flows of people can create cultural hybrids that combine elements of multiple cultures. This means that people can keep their cultural identity but take inspiration from and find similarities with other cultures. 

So, what does this have to do with integration and global talents? When international workers join a company, there may be friction between company values and individual cultural values. Here it is important to remember the hybridization scenario. We cannot force all workers to conform and let go of their individual cultures, but what we can do is learn more about each other’s cultures and find mutual values as well as areas of compromise. Companies need to take an interest in the cultural landscape of their employees and figure out how to merge it with their strategic goals if they wish to be a force to be reckoned with in a globalized economy.

Swedish for Professionals helps global talents integrate seamlessly into their new society and its businesses so that individuals, companies, and whole economies can improve their outcomes. 

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